These are some records I heard this year and enjoyed. They’re not ranked and I won’t know how many there are until I write the last one. One of them wasn’t even released this year. I don’t regard music to be quantifiable in that respect.
I left out Bowie & Radiohead & Thrice & some others, which I did enjoy, but you gotta have a line.
65daysofstatic “No Man’s Sky: Music for An Infinite Universe” (2016)
Getting 65 in to soundtrack a game about traversing a cold, lonely universe was a complete no-brainer, and the soundtrack they recorded for this LP set ended up being the best thing about ‘No Man’s Sky’. Characteristically skittish and frequently ambitious, this 10-song collection perfectly captures what I imagine it feels like to traverse the stars alone. No other band could have done this better.
Apologies, I Have None “Pharmacie” (2016)
I’m going to write about this album elsewhere. This is an excerpt from what I have already written:
“At times, as on ‘Goodbye, Peace of Mind’ and ‘Crooked Teeth’, much of the album mimics the air on a Winter walk; at once fragile and hostile. Heavy use of reverb and delay effects ensure that the record implies a kind of breathy coldness, even in its more aggressive moments, that you sometimes have to brace yourself against.”
Architects “All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us” (2016)
I had never really considered myself as a potential Architects fan before this album came along in the Spring of this year. I spent some time with it, and found an admittedly polished but surprisingly complex and memorable record, that nicely layers the expected combination of punchy riffs and relentless percussion against a backdrop of more atmospheric elements.
The Hotelier “Goodness” (2016)
If someone held a gun to my head and asked me to pick my favourite of this bunch, this is the one I’d pick. Melodic and light without being overly whimsical, I interpret ‘Goodness’ as being a record about freedom and openness. It’s brilliantly paced when listened to as a complete piece of work, and possibly more consistent than any other on this list. It was undoubtedly one of my most-played records of 2016.
Laura Stevenson “Cocksure” (2015)
This is the first Laura Stevenson record I have really spent a lot of time with, although I am familiar with selected songs from her back catalogue, which now spans four full length records. I also finally got to see her live this summer, after missing her twice in Exeter. Her voice is as compelling as ever, and the move to a more direct, electric sound on many of these tracks helps to showcase a breezier, tongue-in-cheek side to her writing.
Touche Amore “Stage Four” (2016)
‘Stage Four’ is a record understandably dominated by its lyrical subject matter. An extended rumination on the death of frontman Jeremy Bolm’s mother, and his guilt on not being there for her during her final moments, it’s a deeply personal record that manages to also reach out to the listener in such a way that you can frequently find yourself considering your own life and the family around you.